MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Two Madison County School Board candidates squared off Thursday, in a forum at Sparkman High School. The candidates were asked a variety of questions, but the most interesting responses came on the topic of the proposed new Monrovia High School.
“My realtor mentioned a new high school coming when I bought my house originally," said Corrie Wikoff, the Democratic candidate for the District 5 School Board seat.
“If you look back at the data, 20 years ago, we had the student population to support a new high school in Monrovia. Unfortunately, the funding wasn’t spent for the new high school. So here we are 20 years later and we need a new high school," said Shere Rucker, the Republican candidate.
Unfortunately, that school doesn't appear to be opening any time soon. “The board and the superintendent have submitted the zoning proposal to the Department of Justice and that’s where it stands with the Department of Justice, as far as I know," said Rucker.
The district can't move forward with the proposed school until the Department of Justice gives its approval due to sanctions placed on the system through a federal desegregation order.
The fate of the project now rests in the hands of the federal government, but Wikoff said there could have been a resolution sooner, if school board had worked more efficiently.
“I think the school board, looking back, which of course hindsight is 20/20, could have done more to make sure the project could be sped up," said Wikoff.
When it comes to the school's funding, “I still think we can afford this new school," said Rucker.
Both agree the district can afford the building, but are concerned about extracurricular activities. “These have been historically funded by our parents. There’s definitely concerns and very valid concerns in every single organization across the board on what happens when you split the two," said Wikoff.
Those concerns will likely remain, no matter who gets elected this November. “For the schools to thrive, we’ll need to work very hard to see additional funding," said Rucker.
The Madison County District 5 School Board race will be on the November 8th ballot.